Written on March 6, 2017
Happy 20th birthday Sister Marie Elizabeth, our beautiful girl so far away from us!
Last Fall, someone innocently asked if Grace would be coming home for Thanksgiving. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. When Mother Superior took Grace through the door to the monastery, that was it. Unless a Sister leaves before a final vow is taken, she does not come out of the monastery. There are a few exceptions like if one needs special medical care. Sister Marie Elizabeth did actually go out to have her wisdom teeth pulled and we can’t wait to hear the details when we next visit!
For her Carmelite order, we can visit twice a year, call once on her birthday, and write letters each month, except for Lent and Advent which are quiet. We got to call her last week before Lent began.
Grace was not one to share or talk about herself, her feelings, her plans. Definitely not in her teen years. Definitely not to us. She was sweet and chatty with probably most everyone else outside this home and most definitely with Emily, her sister and best friend, but often seemed annoyed with us and often acted like she couldn’t wait to get out of here. 🙂
Being apart in this dramatic way has changed all that, changed us. There is heartache for me not knowing anything about her day-to-day, if she is happy, sad, struggling, sick. But, there is a deepness now. And love and gratitude and apologies. She thanks us for everything and wonders how we put up with her. The letters especially are what I treasure. There are tears but also much joy and funny stories.
So while we miss her presence in our home and daily living in ways we didn’t know our hearts could, through this separation God has given us the sweet consolation of growing closer to and loving deeper this daughter than we knew possible.
I am a bit of a mess looking at pictures of her infant and childhood today, but happiest of days and all the love to our girl, our Sister Marie Elizabeth! Thank you for your prayers for her!